Now that you’ve spent some time eliminating occupations from your Roster using career interestsskills and abilities,  work valuesMyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality, and education/training, let’s talk about family and cultural expectations.

As I mentioned on the Reasons to Be Systematic page, many of us will consider the expectations of our family and communities when deciding what occupation to pursue.  The important people in your life may have strong opinions about what occupations would be appropriate for you to pursue.  If this is the case for you, you must decide what you want to do about those expectations.  I can’t tell you how to handle these situations, nor should I.  My advice would be a reflection of my intersecting identities and the cultural values tied to those identities and cultural communities, so my advice may not fit your cultural context.  It would also be presumptuous of me to think that you should play by my cultures’ rules.

Your cultural identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, religion) and the identities of those around you have shaped how you view the world, including how you think about yourself in relation to others.  You may hold a belief that it is important to honor the expectations of your elders, in which case you’ll want to find a way to honor their expectations while also maximizing the fit of the occupation you choose.  If there are a range of occupations that would be acceptable to the important people in your life, then ideally you can use the Systematic Career Exploration Approach (SCEA) to identify the occupation that best fits you.

It may also be possible, if you wish, to share what you’ve learned about career exploration from the SCEA and other reputable sources with the important people in your life.  This may empower them to feel comfortable allowing you to consider a broader range of occupations, so that it’s easier for you to find a good fitting occupation.

Expectations can extend not only to the type of occupation but to where you live and work in the world.  If it’s important that you are able to remain in close physical proximity to your family (e.g., to support and care for them) and local community of origin (e.g., to remain connected and give back), this likely means that you’ll have to take a job in close geographic radius.  Depending on the job opportunities available in that geographic area if may or may not be realistic to pursue certain occupations.  For example, if you are contemplating pursuing the occupation of university professor but there are not universities near your residence, this occupation may not be practical for you to pursue.

There is a great deal that can be said about how to adaptively manage family and cultural expectations during the career exploration process.  Here’s a list of reputable resources.  I’ll continue to add resources to this list over time; feel free to send me links to resources you recommend and I may add them here.

You will have noticed that, in the SCEA, I put education/training and family/cultural expectations after things like interests, skills, values, and personality.  Since these criteria can often be very clear for some people and thus easy to use to eliminate many occupations at once, why weren’t they included earlier in the process?  The reason is that people doing career exploration may prematurely eliminate occupations based on these criteria that are otherwise a really great fit for them.  I think it is important for people to get a sense of which occupations are a good fit for their interests, skills, etc. before considering these other factors because it helps people seriously consider occupations that they otherwise might have ignored early on in the process.  It helps them think outside the box and can lead to opportunities to find an occupation that really fits them well.  Sometimes, upon discovering some occupations that would be an excellent fit, we can find the motivation and resources to overcome potential barriers to pursuing these occupations.  We’re so excited about what the future could hold for us that we find the strength and support to make these good-fitting occupations (that previously would have seemed out of reach) a reality.  Sometimes education/training constraints and family/cultural expectations make certain occupations unrealistic to pursue, but other times compromises can be made and creative solutions found.  I want people who use the SCEA to have a shot at achieving their full potential and satisfaction.  All this being said, it is your career exploration, and you are of course welcome to use these criteria to narrow your Roster in any order you wish!

Congratulations!  If you’ve been following the SCEA step-by-step, you have now considered all of the major criteria for narrowing your occupations Roster.  Before we proceed to Step 4, let’s cover some Roster narrowing tips.

Here’s a video example of how a person with career counseling training used family and cultural expectations to further narrow the Roster: